The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new health guidelines that slant heavily toward the reopening of schools for in-person attendance. The guidelines provide an overview of the risks of keeping students at home for online learning and touch on the social, emotional, and mental risks of staying away from classrooms. The release however iterates earlier recommendations such as handwashing, disinfection of surfaces, and practicing social distancing.
The CDC also advised that school authorities could repurpose unused buildings for classrooms to maintain appropriate physical distance or even move students outside the classroom into the open for learning. The federal health agency also made provisions for cases where a student becomes ill in school, noting that it will not be necessary to shut down the whole school even if a single student tests positive to COVID-19.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said. “School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable.”
CDC emphasized that the chances of children contracting coronavirus is relatively lower than that of adults and that risks of transmission in schools are lower than in other places when preventative measures are put in place. The agency cited a United Nation’s report which indicated that children under the age of 18 years represent 7% of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1% of coronavirus deaths.
“Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults,” CDC wrote. “To put this in perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7% of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1% of COVID-19-related deaths.”
President Donald Trump stated that people who are against the reopening of schools for in-person attendance are politically influenced, and threatened to withdraw federal funding from schools that run only online classes as opposed to classroom activities. He said the funding that should go to such schools should be given to parents who are then at liberty to enroll their wards in private or charter schools.
“I hope that local leaders put the full health and well-being of their students first and make the right decision for parents, teachers and not make political decisions, this is about something very, very important,” Trump said. “If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. So I would like the money to go to the parents of the student.”